Do you remember this wonderful song? Grab your coat and get your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep, just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street…I’ve been singing this lately thinking about the Villa Place Historic District Walking Tour on October 21, 1-4 pm. The organization, Preservation Rocky Mount, is hosting this event along with the residents of this charming neighborhood and the City of Rocky Mount while celebrating its 150th anniversary. The Tour will highlight Architecture and Preservation and give you a renewed appreciation for this neighborhood within walking distance of downtown. Be sure to mark your calendar!
PREPARING FOR THE TOUR….WHAT AM I LOOKING AT?
In the photograph above you are looking at the Harper House. The frame, one-story, three-bay hipped roof bungalow features a tin roof, plain siding, exposed rafter tails, a hip dormer with three Union Jack paned casements, one-over-one sash windows, a glazed and paneled door, and an engaged porch with paired and triple battered posts on brick bases with cross braces. The house was built circa 1917 for John A. Harper, the assistant secretary of the YMCA in Rocky Mount who is the earliest known occupant of the house in 1930.
Fannie Gorman, a beloved and esteemed educator, lived in the house for many years. Here is young Patsy Gorham (great niece) and Charles Dunn (great nephew) unveiling “Miss Fannie’s” portrait upon her retirement in 1955. All these years later we are all indebted to Charles for his Facebook page, Rocky Mount Way Back When. In the spring of 1953, Edgemont School was renamed Fannie W. Gorham School to honor its beloved principal. Two years later, on the occasion of Miss Gorham’s retirement, the PTA presented two special gifts to the school; a lovely oil painting of “Miss Fannie,” which was placed on the front wall of the auditorium. The second gift was a bronze plaque, placed to the right of the front entrance, and inscribed with these words:
FANNIE W. GORHAM
Named in Honor Of
Fannie Whitfield Gorham
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her
tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:26
Miss Fannie died in 1980 at age 93. In delivering her funeral eulogy, her pastor declared, “I think I am well within bounds when I say that there have been presidents and governors and mayors and congressmen who have exerted less influence on the present shape of our city and its quality of life than was exerted by Miss Fannie Gorham.” In 2005 she was inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame. On the Walking Tour, be sure to tip your hat at Miss Fannie’s door, remembered with great affection, and think of her enjoying the home she occupied for many years.
“Old buildings whisper to us in the creaking of floorboards and rattling of windowpanes.”
Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life – Fennel’s Journal – No. 1